2003 - Very nearly a very dry year
Up until November it seemed as though we were about to record the driest
year of the century after a glorious summer in which the sun seemed to shine
every day and the temperature soared to a maximum of92.8 F (33.8 C) on 10
August. Most months had appreciably less rain than the average - in March there
were 19 consecutive days with no measurable rainfall, in April there were 18 and
in August, 16. But all that finally changed in November when it rained on most
days, with over an inch on the 30th, to make 5.8 inches for the month, and
December added just over 3.25 inches. As a result the total rainfall for the
year, 27.72 inches, was marginally greater than in the recent dry years of 1996,
1991 and 1990, though still well below the average.
The Pillhill Brook ran dry at Waterloo Bridge, East Cholderton, on 20
October and once again there was the sad sight of dead trout lying in the
dried-up pools above the bridge. The November rains quickly restarted the flow
of water and by 24 November the stream was again running beneath the bridge,
though so far without the trout. - DJSW
A Drought later this Year?
A recent newspaper
article has explained how the rainfall between October and March is absorbed
into the ground to replenish the aquifers deep below the surface, while rainfall
between April and September is mainly taken up by the growing crops, plants and
trees, or is lost by evaporation. So high winter rainfall is vital if water
levels are to be maintained. In the local context, there seems to be a clear
correlation between low winter rainfall and the drying up of the Pillhill Brook
between East Cholderton and Amport later in the year.
interesting charts of last year's weather show that the very high rainfall
in October, 7½ inches, was followed by two months each with 2½ inches.
Normally this would be a good start to the six winter months, but up to mid-February
there has been a bare 2½
inches extra, and we need a lot more rain before the end of March to keep the
Pillhill Brook flowing later this year. - DJSW
Hosepipe Ban This Summer?
this year I wrote that the low winter rainfall between October and March, the
key months for replenishing the aquifers beneath the surface, might result in
water shortages. The final figure recorded here was 16.44 inches, of which 6.9
inches fell in October.
recent average for these six months is 20.45 inches, so the shortfall has been
about 4 inches, or 20%. Whether this will lead to a water shortage only time,
and Southern Water, will tell: but sadly it remains a distinct possibility that
the Pillhill Brook will once again dry out at East Cholderton later in the year.
- DJSW, June 2005
There was a time when the
equinoctial gales brought heavy rain by the end of September, followed perhaps,
if we were lucky, by an 'Indian summer', with the first frosts coming some time
around the middle of October. By early November winter was beginning. No longer.
We rarely seem to have much stormy weather to usher in the autumn, warm days
linger long after the summer has ended and only the occasional night frost in
October comes to blacken the dahlias in the garden. The lawns now seem to need
mowing throughout the year.
least of the changes in this year's weather pattern, though we must hope only a
temporary one, is the lack of rain. We had a deluge of 7.46 inches in October
2004, but the following twelve months averaged only a fraction over 2 inches a
month compared with the usual 3 inches. Only October of this year, with 3.8
inches, prevented the situation from being even worse; November, too, started
off with a useful amount - in the first two, stormy, days of the month as much
rain fell as in the whole of November 2004 - and the three weeks from 18 October
gave us a welcome 5.88 inches. So far, so good. But we need to go on like this
if the water table is to rise to let the streams and rivers flow properly again,
though as I write this, on 14 November, there are clear blue skies outside, the
sun is shining brightly and we had our first proper 'dahlia frost' only last
night. - DJSW, December 2005
Rainfall - 2005
rainfall for last year (measured in East Cholderton) was 26.2 inches - the
lowest figure in 16 years of recording. Only in two months, October and
December, was there more than 3 inches - just enough to get the Pillhill
Brook flowing again through Waterloo Bridge after Christmas, having been
dry for 24 weeks from 14 July. Last year's figure can be compared to the
average over the same 16 years of 34.5 inches, so is about 75% -
statistically not very serious, perhaps, but we need a lot of rain before
the summer and so does most of Southern England. - DJSW, February 2006
Just a little rain ?
The last three months
have seen a preponderance of cold dry days with easterly winds and many
nights of frost. The spring equinox has done a little to bring much-needed
rain, but not enough: rainfall in the key months for replenishing the
underground aquifers, October to March, amounted to only 15.85 inches. A
year ago, the figure for the same period was 16.44 inches, and these
compare poorly with the recent average of over 20 inches for the same six
Despite these low
figures, our gardens haven't done too badly - the RHS advice is that the
plants need an inch every ten days (more than that sinks down below the
roots and is lost); it is our own need for water that is at risk, because
not enough rain is reaching the water-holding strata deep beneath the
surface, from where it can be sourced by the water companIes. - DJSW
Hot and Dry
In May I wrote of the
continuing lack of rainfall in the previous six months. Perversely, May
itself proved to be a very wet month, rain falling on 22 of the 31 days
and totaling 4.32 inches. For many places May produced a record rainfall,
though here the figure was even higher in 2002 with 5.03 inches. In June
we had just under an inch and in July there was 2.17 inches, of which 0.82
inches fell in a black squall on the 22nd, right on cue as Amport Fete
opened. Nevertheless, the Pillhill Brook ran dry at Waterloo Bridge on 10
July and with practically no rain for the first half of August it is not
likely to flow again for some time.
The summer heatwave
gave us some very high temperatures, the peak being on 19 July with a
maximum shade temperature of 34.3°C (93.7°F) and from 11 July to 12
August the minimum night temperature never fell below 20°C - for those
who like the heat, a glorious summer. DJSW Sept 2006
Another late autumn
For the second year in
succession we have had a late autumn this year: as I write the leaves have
only just started to change colour and to come down, lawns are growing
(and need mowing) vigorously and our first 'dahlia frost' did not come
until the early hours of 2 November.
Everything is now very
damp. October produced 5.17 inches of rain, which compares well with the
average over the past 17 years of 4.07 inches. The first half of November
gave us little more than a few showers and periods of drizzle, but since
then it has rained frequently and often heavily, though we will need a
very great deal before the end of December to come anywhere near the
average for the year.
- DJSW Dec 2006
2006 – nine months dry, three months wet.
first nine months of 2006 continued the very dry conditions of the
previous year: only May was unusually wet, but otherwise the lack of rain
caused the ground to dry out badly and by 10 July the Pillhill Brook had
ceased to flow at Waterloo Bridge in East Cholderton.
Despite the cloudburst over Amport Fete in July, really wet
conditions returned only in October: in each of the last three months of
the year we recorded over five inches of rain, the water table rose
strongly and the stream came back on 26 November, having been dry for 20
weeks. By the end of the year
we had recorded a total rainfall of 35.11 inches, just a shade over the
recent average here.
is interesting to see how much variation in the annual rainfall we have
recorded over the past 17 years. The
lowest was 26.2 inches in 2005; the highest 49.25 inches in 2002 –
between these two extremes the figures have been entirely random and no
particular pattern emerges over the years in this, admittedly short,
period of time.
DJSW Feb 2007
Heavy Winter Rain
is said that the key months for replenishment of the aquifers deep
underground are the six winter months, from the beginning of October to
the end of March, when there is minimum evaporation and the plants have
stopped taking up water for growth. In
2006/7, we recorded 26.55 inches of rain in these six months, well above
the recent average of about 20 inches (and in fact more than fell in all
12 months of 2005), so despite the dry spell of the last few weeks, we can
hope there will be no hose-pipe bans, and that the Pillhill Brook will
continue to flow throughout the year.
No April showers this year !
What a month April was, barely a cloud in the sky from beginning to end, and, by all accounts, the warmest April on record. Here we measured only 0.12 inches of rain in the whole month, the lowest of any calendar month over the last 18 years. There was a spell of 22 consecutive days, 31st March to 21st April, without any rain at all – the last time we had a similar run was in 1997 (21st March to 16th April). Interestingly, it is not unusual for there to be dry spells in March or April, often accompanied as in this year by very drying northerly or easterly winds. But what a contrast May has been: chill, windy and wet, with over 2¾ inches of rain. No global warming in sight at the moment!
DJSW June 2007
Rainfall in 2007
We measured just a
shade under 36 inches of rain in East Cholderton last year, only about an inch
more than the recent average; but this figure masks some quite considerable
variations. For example, April - normally quite a wet month - was almost
bone-dry throughout with only 0.12 inches (no April showers there!): and there
was a long dry spell of 30 days, from 21 August to 19 September, in which no
measurable rain fell at all. In marked contrast May, June and July were all
unusually wet and we recorded 14.25 inches, an increase of nearly 60% on the
average of 9 inches for these three months.
Such are the vagaries
of the English weather that almost any month can turn out to be the wettest of
the year, but the accolade must usually go to November, averaging about 4
inches; and our records here suggest that no month averages less than 2
DJSW Feb 2008
No settled weather yet
This year has seen a long drawn out spring with
predominantly cool weather and a greater than average rainfall. The six key
months for replenishing the underground water levels, October to March, were in
fact about 2½ inches below the average, but this has been more than made up by
3½ inches falling in May and more in early June (the 11 days starting on 23 May
gave us just under 4½ inches), so farmland and gardens have had good growing
weather. Now lets hope for some warmth for the rest of the summer. DJSW
– What Summer ?
certainly had a basin-full of rain recently – the wettest July (4.98 inches)
in 18 years and already over 2½ inches for the first half of August.
There were a few warm days at the end of July, the 28th being
the hottest (28.9ºC / 84ºF), but since then the temperatures have rarely
topped 23ºC / 73ºF, and the wind has resolutely stayed south-westerly,
bringing cool moist air with it.
Last night (14th) the temperature fell to a very low 7.0ºC /
Blame global warming if you like, or merely put it down to the unreliable
nature of an English summer.
DJSW Sept 2008
Rainfall as measured
in East Cholderton in 2008 amounted to 39.8 inches, about 5 inches above the
recent yearly average. No single
month was responsible for any large amount, though July, with 4.98 inches –
nearly all of this in only 10 days – was the wettest.
Unusually, we had over 2 inches of rain in every month of
the year except for February, so the ground remained wet and muddy for much of
the year. Dry spells of up to a fortnight occurred in February, May and in the
latter half of July and September, but by and large it was a wet year in this
part of Southern England, as it was throughout the whole Country. DJSW Feb
Winter Weather – a bit of everything
first three months of the year were characterised by much colder weather than in
recent years, with a total of 32 night frosts (to add to the 14 in the last 3
months of 2008), the lowest temperature recorded in East Cholderton being –7.5°C
(19°F) on the night of 6th January.
Snow fell on the night of 1st February – only about 2 inches
here – and although more fell on the next four nights, cold rain by day packed
it down and partially thawed it so that there was never more than 4 inches of
snow on level ground, and the last of it had gone by 12th February.
By that date, the first six weeks of the year had already given us over 7
inches of rain, but the next 6 weeks, to the end of March, were unusually dry
with only 1.66 inches.
This dry spell continued into the first week of April and, with fine warm
weather and the temperature up to 16.5°C (62°F), hardly surprisingly, gardens
and farmland became very parched, so the rain just before Easter was very
welcome. DJSW May 2009